PhD fellowships in the field of Digital Visual Studies







Ph.D. Fellowships

The Max Planck Society (MPG) and the University of Zurich (UZH) invite applications for interdisciplinary predoctoral fellowships in the field of Digital Visual Studies (DVS) for a duration of 2+1 years. The program is part of a five-year cross-institutional Digital Humanities research project funded by the MPG, supported by the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History (BHMPI) and collaborating with the Swiss Art Research Infrastructure (SARI) and the UZH Digital Society Initiative (DSI). The DVS project is operative at the UZH since January 2020.

The fellows will carry out cutting-edge multidisciplinary research at the intersection of Art and Architectural History and Computer Science in a program specifically designed to tackle the current gap in the use, analysis and interpretation of digital visual resources. They will profit from access to large, rich and open datasets provided by a number of partner institutions in Art History, including the BHMPI. Further digitization required for the research projects will be supported. Data will include:

  • 370 000 digital images of works of art (paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, buildings, etc.) with rich metadata, and 1.150.000 digitized photographs by mid-2021
  • very rich semantic data about the history of art and architecture in Italy (200.000 relations)
  • 1400 digitized books in the history of art with rich metadata, and 14.600 books on Rome and Naples by the mid-2022
  • historic maps with annotated geodata for Rome and Naples
  • diagnostic and technical information, scientific imaging (X-ray, infrared, microscope) of artworks and books

PhD candidates will also have shared access to a Frontend Development Engineer to help with production-ready code and the distribution of prototypes. The academic program will also include input from international Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Fellows.


Your profile

Ideal candidates have expertise (a good Master’s degree) in one or more of the following areas:

  • Machine Learning
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Computer Vision, Image Processing,
  • Spatial Humanities and GIS
  • Knowledge Representation
  • Digital Humanities
  • Digital Art History, Art History, Archival Studies in Art History
  • Book and Photo History
  • Media theory/Artistic Research
  • Architectural and Urban Studies
  • Social and Historical Network Analysis
  • Cultural Analytics, Computational Literary Studies

What we offer

Accepted Ph.D. candidates will benefit from:

  • a competitive yearly salary of approx CHF55’000 (with generous social benefits including contribution to pension fund which can be cashed if you leave the country) in an attractive, well-connected, and dynamic European city.
  • a network of researchers from MPG, BHMPI, UZH, DSI, SARI, ETH Zurich and other national and international partner institutions
  • a stimulating group of DH specialists working together
  • a vibrant intellectual and creative community in Zurich, including UZH, ETH and the University of the Arts (ZHdK)
  • designated supervisors
  • support from the UZH Graduate Campus
  • office space in the center of Zurich
  • research residences at the BHMPI in Rome will be organized
  • attending and organizing workshops
  • social events to build community

Application process - how to apply

The application process consists of multiple parts: in addition to applying to the DVS Fellowships, you also need to apply to a UZH doctoral degree program of your choice in disciplines related to DVS (the Graduate Campus keeps a list of doctoral programs offered at UZH), and upon acceptance, register in the UZH portal. Please note that the individual doctoral programs have their own application deadlines.

In order to be successfully selected and receive the the DVS Fellowhips Program, you also need to be accepted into a UZH doctoral program (PhD program, doctoral subject, general doctorate) and become a registered PhD student at UZH. One of the first steps is to look for a potential supervisor. Please check the information in each of the doctoral program’s websites (see links at the end of the page).

Depending on the application deadlines, it can make sense to start the applications in parallel. If you do so, please let the persons involved in the application for the doctoral program know that you are also applying for the DVS Fellowship.

To apply for the DVS Fellowships, candidates are invited to upload their applications on the recruitment website of the BHMPI ( Please include the following in your application to the DVS:

  • CV
  • All university-level grade transcripts
  • A short statement / cover letter describing their motivation and personal qualifications
  • A research project proposal (non-binding, max. three pages with bibliography).
  • names and full contact details of two referees
  • Please mention if you already have a PhD supervisor at UZH

The Call for applications will remain open until filled. After a first screening, shortlisted candidates might be invited for an interview. Selected candidates will be notified via email.


Important information

The Call will remain open until filled.  Researchers interested in the DVS are invited to consult our website (DVS) and to address inquiries and questions to

Candidates are responsible for their separate application to a UZH doctoral program in the related disciplines. Please see our webpage or check the following links for relevant information:
UZH Doctoral programs: Application and registration
Doctoral Programs at the University of Zurich
UZH Graduate Campus